This Environment production progress post is a brutally honest representation of an artistic thought process I am going through to develop a futuristic environment for a personal project. The post contains images and videos that start out extremely rough but will get better as the design becomes clearer. Drop a constructive comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts.
December 14th 2017
This week I built an extremely useful Maya to Marmoset pipeline tool that will speed me up dramatically as I move forward with the project. The tool is in its early stages but it going to serve well as a backbone to the entire process.
December 6th 2017
Created a sweet shader in Marmoset to allow for easy color masking. Download it here if you want to use it:
Added some pipes to my library of textures to draw from.
Created a cool substance that allows me to automate great looking textures quickly.
Created a few more high poly texture tiles.
November 30th 2017
The geometry has been reworked but I still have the same basic texture tiles that seem to be holding up for now.
Still in marmoset, I dropped in a character and upped the render quality to indulge in some awe moments. Even though this is still so far from my goal, these small moments really help keep the motivation going:)
Blood decals were handled so well in Marmoset. I was pretty impressed with the result I could achieve.
Added a few more texture tiles and updated them with a little wear, still playing with colors.
Updated the geometry with more detail and had some fun with lights.
I figured Marmoset was a good place to play so I started testing extremely simple geometry with 2 different tiled textures to try and get a feel for the futuristic environment I have in mind.
Motion Chain is a Curve path tool that will create multiple motion path nodes at once. The tool automates set driven key connections and additionally fixes the cycle check error that occurs with the default motion path tool. Motion Chain is written in Python for Maya and will aid you with many tasks including my tutorials so be sure to grab it!
Version 2.0 addresses a limit that was accidentally set on the cycle attribute preventing backwards motion.
This is the forth of a 4 part video tutorial series geared to teach you how to rig a tank in Maya to a professional level. Please keep in mind that this rig is not easy to achieve so be sure to know the rigging basics before watching. In this video, “How to rig a tank in Maya – part 4”, I will be setting up a very reliable, no-flip, target control with an automatic hull recoil effect that reacts to the turrets direction. I will also show off how simple the tank rig is to animate and show you how to export with ease.
This is the third of a 4 part video tutorial series geared to teach you how to rig a tank in Maya to a professional level. Please keep in mind that this rig is not easy to achieve so be sure to know the rigging basics before watching. In this video, “How to rig a tank in Maya – part 3”, I will be setting up a unique hull suspension control that allows for a realistic weight shifting effect. I will also setup individual wheel controls to allow for terrain interaction. In the final video, I will setup the turret with a no-flip target control and an automated fire recoil control. I will also show off how simple the tank is to animate and show you how to export the tank with ease.
This is the second of a 4 part video tutorial series geared to teach you how to rig a tank in Maya to a professional level. Please keep in mind that this rig is not easy to achieve so be sure to know the rigging basics before watching. In this video, “How to rig a tank in Maya – part 2”, I will be using vector math techniques to setup the wheels so that they move correctly in any direction and distance. I will then connect the wheels so that they drive the treads that we setup in the previous video. The next video will setup the hull control, giving us a suspension and weight shifting effect.
This is the first of a 4 part video tutorial series geared to teach you how to rig a tank in Maya to a professional level. Please keep in mind that this rig is not easy to achieve so be sure to know the rigging basics before watching. In this video, “How to rig a tank in Maya – part 1”, I will be creating a clean joint based tread system where each tread piece moves in sync with one another along a given curve path. The next video will setup the wheels and treads so that they move correctly in any direction and distance.
I created this rigged tank model back in 2009 for a demo video. Eight years later I decided to take the time to turn it into a final asset that is suitable for high end games and 3D renderings. The rigged tank model boasts fully automated treads that move accurately based on direction and distance, a non flip target style turret control with an automatic turret recoil system and a fully functioning machine gun that even ejects shell casings.
All scenes are Real world scale (cm) and all models are centered at origin.
Included file formats:
Maya (Supports all versions after Maya 2014 and is rigged with an advanced Custom rig).
Marmoset Toolbag 3.0
Two topology versions included:
All Quad topology version for film and media. (intended for subdivision)
Here is the Soldier Demo Rig for anyone who wants to check it out in Autodesk Maya. The rig details are covered in the video so check that out too! The rig boasts a very easy to use set of IK/FK controls with automated shoulder, knee and knuckle armor. There is also a unique, non-destructive motion capture editing system attached to the rig. Definitely worth your time, it’s a lot of fun to play with. The Maya scene opens in Maya 2009 or newer.
If you decide to take a look at the rig, consider leaving a constructive comment below or on YouTube.
I really had a lot of fun creating this character and I wanted to share the various stages of production I went through. I made a ton of mistakes and there are definitely better methods out there but this is the route I took and I hope it helps you with your own project in some way.
It started here.
"I want to build a cool sci-fi soldier" Those words in mind translate to a vast array of initial questions; Is it humanoid? Is it Male/Female? Does it have Massive over-sized armor? What kind of weapons would it use? Is it going to be Realistic?
You have to start somewhere, even if you don't fully understand what it is you want to build. Of all the stages of production, this was the most fun because it resolves those questions and also begins to hint at answers to new, more detailed questions of the characters form. Even as a rough scribble, a few forms actually made it through to the final model.
Using reference images is key for obvious reasons but one thing I personally need to remember when using them is not to compare my current rough work to them. It is very difficult to see a finished product from such an early stage and If I am looking at a final posed beauty shot of Ironman or a Halo Spartan it is very easy to become discouraged instead of inspired. I had to keep telling myself that sticking with it is my only option if I really want to finish it.
Before any of the details could be added I really had to have all of my big "form" questions answered. Rebuilding a leg or a piece of armor happened many times and continued to do so until I was 90% happy with it. I split off the hands and ignored the head design for now because they needed their own focus time.
Here is where it took a large leap. Progress was most apparent which really ignites the motivation to continue on, however, finding a nice medium between looking cool and looking functional was tough. It is so easy to get lost in the details.
Even though the final product was mostly all white, adding color at this stage really helped me break up the forms and identify problem areas.
I was happy with the hands and considered them final after my first attempt but after returning to them with "fresh" eyes I realized the fingers were too skinny and there were many other proportion issues I needed to tweak. These flaws became even more noticeable once I reattached the hands to the body. Building the hands in a separate scene was helpful in some ways but ended up being more trouble in the long run.
The head is so important.
Obviously the head is important, it is what we identify with. I spent more time on the design of the head than the rest of the model combined. I started here, ripping off any cool head design I could find online and playing with it in Photoshop. It gave me a place to start but nothing really stood out to me.
Just not working.
I tried so many head roughs but nothing was working at all, these were my best two but they felt too "Halo" and lacked the feel I was going for. Of all stages of production, this process was the longest and most frustrating - I almost quit many times.
I realized it needed more identity than the previous designs so tried something interesting by slowly hinting at human facial features to try to bring it to life and give it some personality. I sculpted in a low brow, high cheek bones and a stern bottom lip which quickly advanced into the final helmet design.
My initial paint test, I really liked the plain white color of a storm trooper so I started with that. I went through many more color tests but ended up returning to my first choice.
A few shots of the final result.
Thanks for checking out the stages of production I went through to build this character!
I made this as a quick reference PBR material values chart and found it very useful when making textures from scratch or quick editing NDO/Substance Painter texture values in Photoshop without needing to load the software. It is not a massive collection but it does contain a lot of the common materials encountered. The metals are shown in a dull and polished state. The non-metals all use a blue Albedo for chart consistency only, there is no set color for those material Albedo values.